Chestatee High volleyball coach Kaylee Crumley had to like what she saw from the floor as her Lady War Eagles managed to pick up a pair of hard-earned wins during a road tri-match Tuesday night in Gainesville.
The Lady War Eagles twice came from behind to defeat non-area host East Hall in two contested sets (26-24, 25-23) before outlasting Lumpkin County in the nightcap match — 22-25, 25-22, 25-17.
Crumley said picking up these type of wins on the road was all thanks to Chestatee's diligence of sticking with a game plan.
“When we execute, anyone is ours. In a win-lose scenario, especially with teams like this, it’s gonna be tight no matter what because both teams were great,” Crumley said.
The Lady War Eagles (8-17) got a much-needed boost from the front row with senior middle hitter Nicole Sedwick, who rose to the occasion in both non-area contests — especially against Lumpkin County. She fired 20 kills, including a career-high 15 in the second match to keep Chestatee afloat and help capture the season tiebreaker over the scrappy, defensively sound Lady Indians.
Others to produce for the Lady War Eagles were Chloe Riley with 12 kills, followed by Maggie McNair with 25 digs and four aces.
Against the Lady Vikings (25-7), the Lady War Eagles relied on a steady serve-receive game to set up their offense, while tempering the power game of East Hall’s hitters along the front row.
“They have some athletes that can really explode off the ground,” Crumley said of East Hall. “We knew if we could handle our serves, kind of challenge them with their serve-receive we’d be OK.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Vikings struggled in the passing game themselves, committing 35 unforced errors and five missed serves — which proved costly in a match that was tight from start to finish.
“You can’t win volleyball with that many errors, and I’m not taking anything away from Chestatee,” Deppe said. “We knew they had some athletes, and they passed the ball well, while we didn’t. That killed us.”
In their first meeting since a loss to East Hall last August, the Lady War Eagles managed to stay poised and rally to win both sets.
East Hall outlasted a number of long rallies while getting a pair of kills by Janelly Lara to take a 17-14 lead in the opening set. Chestatee continued to battle back, grounding kills from outside hitter Lindsey Bornhorst and Chloe Riley to climb within one at 18-19. Chestatee continued gaining on the Lady Vikings, who were able to take a 24-23 lead momentarily.
But East Hall couldn’t hold, and the Lady War Eagles claimed the next four points, finishing the set with a Maggie McNair ace from the service line.
In the second set, Chestatee erased four and five-point deficits, the latter coming after East Hall got a pair of kills during a 6-0 run to take a 18-13 lead. Chestatee got a momentum-swaying kill from sophomore Logan Wiggins, who sparked a 10-1 run that vaulted the visitors back out front and elicited a East Hall timeout at 23-19.
The Lady Vikings switched gears immediately out of that break, getting a pair of kills from senior captain Savannah Thellman — the latter capping off a 33-shot rally — and a service ace from Janelly Lara as East Hall took four-straight to deadlock the set at 23-all.
Yet Chestatee still prevailed, as an attack from Chloe Riley near the net trickled over the net and landed short to give the Lady War Eagles back the lead. One more serve from Rachel Vandiver was placed well enough to shut the door for 25-23.
The nightcap match wasn’t any easier. Already in a one-set hole against Lumpkin County, the Lady War Eagles had to dig deep to overcome an 11-6 deficit in the second set despite opening on a 6-0 run.
Chestatee stormed back by winning 13 of the next 16 points to reclaim the lead for good as it got kills from Wiggins, Riley and Sedwick in that span.
“We knew we were going to be challenged with that, is that they’re really scrappy and we’ll have to step up with that,” Crumley said of Lumpkin County. “I think we did an awesome job with that. Nicole single-handedly handled the front row for us for the majority of the points.”
EAST HALL PICKS UP REGION WIN: It didn’t take long for the Lady Vikings to shake off a loss.
East Hall (3-1 Area 7-3A) put forth a strong performance across the board, only misfiring twice in the service game as it defeated Lumpkin County 25-21, 25-14 for their third Area win of the season.
“They know the importance of an (area) game, they took ownership (of the loss) and we played some volleyball,” Deppe said.
The longtime coach was also pleased with his unit’s ability to eliminate Lumpkin County’s (15-19, 0-3 Region 7-3A) strong row of hitters that shined against Chestatee in the marathon match before.
“We knew we had to serve well in certain spots in order to neutralize their certain players.”
Tessa Rider returned from a two-week absence due to injury to lead the East Hall attack, firing 15 kills and 29 digs over both matches. Middle hitter Lakeria Whelchel’s 11 kills kept pace behind Rider, followed by Janelly Lara with 10 kills and Nehemiah Jinks with seven. Ivey Shadburn (three aces), Lara (three aces), Whelchel (two aces) and Rider (two aces) also led the serving efforts for East Hall.
The Lady Vikings resume play Thursday when they host Jackson County and Stephens County for a tri-match in Gainesville. Play begins at 5 p.m.